Solutions / City-Wide Solutions

Citywide Solutions

Cities have many solutions available to reduce air pollution quickly and at scale. See which solution areas are right for your city.

“Cities can reduce both air pollution and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and ozone through a range of measures that benefit health very immediately and climate in the near term.”

Dr. Carlos Dora, Coordinator of WHO’s air quality, public policies and health work.
01

Solutions for Transport

01 - Solutions for Transport Strong public transit systems are the backbone for making our cities “trim”, energy efficient and more livable. Cities built primarily around car travel quickly become sprawling and “obese” -- gobbling up land in highways and parking lots, generating more pollution, and fostering unhealthy lifestyles. Pedestrian- and cycle-friendly cities with separated networks for walking biking and mass transit make commuting safer, easier, healthier, and less expensive.
  • Walking & cycling paths

    Walking and cycling networks make trips by foot or bicycle safer and more accessible, preventing pollution from vehicles, traffic injuries, and promoting better health through physical activity.

  • Efficient mass transit

    Shifting people to more efficient forms of transport, including bus rapid transit, light rail and other forms of shared transportation dramatically reduces air pollution by cutting down on private vehicle use and emissions.

  • Emission standards

    Raising emissions standards for all vehicles takes heavy polluters off the road and drives market pressures for cleaner vehicles, as well as innovation for cleaner technologies. Reducing high-sulfur fuels in many emerging economies is an important first step.

  • Soot-free vehicles

    “Soot-free” vehicles reduce tailpipe particulate/black carbon emissions by 85% or more, as compared to uncontrolled diesel exhaust. Soot-free vehicles are typically vehicles certified to Euro VI or US 2010 emission levels, including electric drive or hybrid engines, compressed natural gas (CNG), biogas/other biofuels, or diesel engines with a functioning diesel particle filter.

SEE FURTHER RESOURCES
Madrid’s city centre is off-limits to polluting vehicles from today

“The Centro district will become a lung for the city in the heart of Madrid,” states the introduction to Madrid Central, a plan that establishes a low-emissions zone in the centre of the Spanish capital that begins today. The 472-hectare (1,166-acre) zone locks out petrol vehicles registered before 2000 and diesel vehicles registered before 2006— […]

New partnership for zero emission bus fleets in Latin America will begin work in three major cities

Citizens of Medellín, São Paulo and Mexico City will be the first to benefit from a new partnership to speed up transition to zero emission bus fleets in Latin America, which was recently lauded at the Copenhagen P4G Summit. The Zero Emission Bus Rapid-deployment Accelerator (ZEBRA) will start its work in the three cities, supporting their efforts […]

New BreatheLife country Colombia brings new and enhanced action on air quality

Colombia, one of the latest countries to join BreatheLife efforts to cut global deaths from air pollution by half by 2030, is no stranger to action curbing air pollution. Since the 1970s, the country has put in place and built on air quality and pollution monitoring and regulations to mitigate the threat hovering over its growing […]

BreatheLife welcomes Panama City

Panama City, a city of 1.4 million citizens that sits at the Pacific mouth of the Panama Canal, has joined the BreatheLife campaign. The political and administrative centre of Panama and a hub for banking and commerce, the city is responsible for about 55 per cent of the country’s GDP. While Panama City possesses traits […]

BreatheLife welcomes the Canton of Sarajevo

New BreatheLife member Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is familiar with air quality challenges. The canton of 420,000 residents is nestled in a valley in the Dinaric Alps, whose many mountain ranges pose a challenge to atmospheric pollution dispersion, at times trapping pollutants such as particulate matter from wood smoke and vehicles. Heavy traffic, […]

BreatheLife welcomes Baguio City, the Philippines

Baguio, a highly urbanized mountain resort city in the northern Luzon island of the Philippines, has joined the BreatheLife campaign. The city of over 345,000 citizens, dubbed the Summer Capital of the Philippines, has set itself the goal of maintaining air quality levels within the “good” to “fair” range of the national air quality index. […]

BreatheLife welcomes IloIlo City, Philippines

Iloilo City is a highly urbanized coastal city of 500,000 residents, halfway between Manila and Davao, on the southern edge of the Philippine island of Panay. The City was lauded in 2017 by the Clean Air Philippines Movement for its air quality, declared a Clean Air City alongside the City of Davao and given the […]

BreatheLife welcomes Tirana, capital of Albania

Tirana is getting a designer revamp. The capital of Albania joins the BreatheLife network armed with detailed urban transformation plans that tackle some of the most pressing concerns of cities— traffic congestion, urban sprawl, air pollution— and are changing how it grows and moves, with co-benefits for air quality and climate. Tirana is no stranger […]

New report outlines air pollution measures that can save millions of lives and slow climate change

This article first appeared on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.  Millions of lives could be saved and one billion people living in Asia could be breathing clean air by 2030 if 25 simple and cost-effective measures are implemented, according to a new UN report. Currently, about 4 billion people – 92 per cent […]

Santiago de Cali joins BreatheLife campaign

The city of Santiago de Cali, or Cali as it is popularly called, knows it’s blessed. Surrounded by national parks and being the only major Colombian city with access to the Pacific coast, the air quality of this city of over 2.3 million residents has regularly been among the best among four major Colombian cities. […]

02

Solutions for Waste Management

02 - Solutions for Waste Management Landfills account for 11% of the world’s methane emissions, and municipal waste is expected to nearly double by 2025. Furthermore, an estimated 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged untreated or partially treated. Better waste management programs are integral to ensuring our communities don’t suffer as a result, both on a local and global level.
  • Landfill gas recovery

    Landfill gas recovery is an innovative, renewable energy option that actually harnesses harmful landfill emissions rather than allowing them to enter the atmosphere or our lungs.

  • Improved wastewater treatment

    Improving wastewater treatment and sanitation provisions, both in the home and in industry, can make an enormous difference in reducing infectious disease risks.

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A third of urban waste ends up in open dumpsites or environment in Latin America and the Caribbean

In September 1997, Doña Juana, a major landfill in Bogotá, Colombia, became synonymous with the human and financial cost of badly-managed landfills: it collapsed, sending tonnes of trash downhill into the Tunjuelo River, exposing toxic materials and releasing noxious fumes that spread across the capital city. Those living in the area and the hundreds of […]

BreatheLife welcomes the Canton of Sarajevo

New BreatheLife member Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is familiar with air quality challenges. The canton of 420,000 residents is nestled in a valley in the Dinaric Alps, whose many mountain ranges pose a challenge to atmospheric pollution dispersion, at times trapping pollutants such as particulate matter from wood smoke and vehicles. Heavy traffic, […]

BreatheLife welcomes Panama City

Panama City, a city of 1.4 million citizens that sits at the Pacific mouth of the Panama Canal, has joined the BreatheLife campaign. The political and administrative centre of Panama and a hub for banking and commerce, the city is responsible for about 55 per cent of the country’s GDP. While Panama City possesses traits […]

BreatheLife welcomes IloIlo City, Philippines

Iloilo City is a highly urbanized coastal city of 500,000 residents, halfway between Manila and Davao, on the southern edge of the Philippine island of Panay. The City was lauded in 2017 by the Clean Air Philippines Movement for its air quality, declared a Clean Air City alongside the City of Davao and given the […]

BreatheLife welcomes Baguio City, the Philippines

Baguio, a highly urbanized mountain resort city in the northern Luzon island of the Philippines, has joined the BreatheLife campaign. The city of over 345,000 citizens, dubbed the Summer Capital of the Philippines, has set itself the goal of maintaining air quality levels within the “good” to “fair” range of the national air quality index. […]

BreatheLife welcomes Tirana, capital of Albania

Tirana is getting a designer revamp. The capital of Albania joins the BreatheLife network armed with detailed urban transformation plans that tackle some of the most pressing concerns of cities— traffic congestion, urban sprawl, air pollution— and are changing how it grows and moves, with co-benefits for air quality and climate. Tirana is no stranger […]

New report outlines air pollution measures that can save millions of lives and slow climate change

This article first appeared on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.  Millions of lives could be saved and one billion people living in Asia could be breathing clean air by 2030 if 25 simple and cost-effective measures are implemented, according to a new UN report. Currently, about 4 billion people – 92 per cent […]

BreatheLife campaign welcomes Santo Domingo

A city of “firsts”, Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, literally laid the ground rules for urban planning. Its UNESCO Heritage protected colonial town, founded in 1498, was built in a grid pattern that became the model for almost all town planners in the New World. Santo Domingo also gave the New World its […]

Accra, Ghana is first African city to join the BreatheLife campaign

Accra, Ghana, home to 2 million people, is the first major African city to join the BreatheLife campaign. The announcement coincided with the launch of several bold new City initiatives to clean up waste, stop waste burning and enhance green spaces in several neighbourhoods worst hit by air pollution. “Cities are becoming more important in […]

First comprehensive air quality management plan for the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area announced

An estimated 440 lives could be saved per year from the clutches of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and five thousand asthma-related medical visits could be avoided in the Greater Accra Region in 2030 and beyond, if a new Air Quality Management Plan is adopted for the region, according to Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (Ghana EPA). The […]

03

Household air & pollution

03 - Solutions for Household air & pollution Nearly 60% of premature deaths from household air pollution are among women and children who spend hours around sooty cookstoves burning wood, coal and kerosene. Shifting to cleaner stoves can have a domino effect of benefits – reducing black carbon emissions as well as the time spent by women and girls in gathering fuel.
  • Low-emission stoves and fuels

    Cleaner-burning biomass stoves and other low-emission fuels or stove types improve air quality in the home and the community, and lower risk of burns or other injuries.

  • Improved lighting

    Electric lighting, including PV solar rooftop panels, reduces reliance on kerosene lamps that emit heavy concentrations of harmful black carbon and other air pollutants.

  • Passive building design principles

    Reducing the need for extra heating or cooling by designing homes that take advantage of the sun’s natural warming and fresh air ventilation for cooling can help minimize a home’s air pollution and carbon footprint.

SEE FURTHER RESOURCES
Healthy homes, healthy cities

When the Chilean government discovered that as much as 94 per cent of the fine particulate matter that contributed to smog was coming from firewood burning in buildings, it launched a programme to replace 200,000 firewood heaters with more energy-efficient ones. It also started to subsidize insulation in low- and middle-income households to improve the […]

BreatheLife welcomes IloIlo City, Philippines

Iloilo City is a highly urbanized coastal city of 500,000 residents, halfway between Manila and Davao, on the southern edge of the Philippine island of Panay. The City was lauded in 2017 by the Clean Air Philippines Movement for its air quality, declared a Clean Air City alongside the City of Davao and given the […]

New report outlines air pollution measures that can save millions of lives and slow climate change

This article first appeared on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.  Millions of lives could be saved and one billion people living in Asia could be breathing clean air by 2030 if 25 simple and cost-effective measures are implemented, according to a new UN report. Currently, about 4 billion people – 92 per cent […]

UK Government releases draft Clean Air Strategy for consultation

The Government of the United Kingdom is calling for consultation on a new draft Clean Air Strategy, whose proposed actions could cut the costs of air pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030. It outlines actions to improve air quality by reducing […]

Youth spring to action against air pollution in the world’s coldest national capital

Fifteen-year-old Erdenechimeg puts on her school uniform, a jumper and her snug parka, and sets off on her daily walk to school. On this day, there are blue skies on the walk from her home to school in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; but in winter, when residents in traditional houses burn raw coal to ward against temperatures […]

Mongolia tackles air pollution in Ulaanbaatar by legislation and example

It’s midday, but the sky is dark, as if dusk has long fallen. The winter air is thick and sooty, creeping into living areas, from thousands of heating stoves and hearths alit with smoky, bituminous coal— 350,000 tonnes of this cheapest and most readily available solid fuel— and a persistent smog blankets the streets. The […]

World Health Organization issues recommendations to tackle health impacts of air pollution in Mongolia

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week released a set of long-, medium- and short-term recommendations for the Government of Mongolia to tackle air pollution. It is also urging the Government to keep air pollution as a top priority for policies and implementation throughout the year. The use of biomass (such as raw coal) to heat […]

Cleaner cookstoves linked to better pregnancy outcomes

Details of the link between air pollution and the health of unborn children are growing. Hot on the heels of a British Medical Journal study that linked outdoor air pollution to lower birthweight of babies, a new study has found, conversely, that switching from more polluting traditional cookstoves to cleaner-burning ethanol ones has positive impacts […]

Burn Right Campaign

As the seasons change and the weather turns cold in the northern hemisphere, millions of homes in Europe, Asia and North America turn to fireplaces and wood stoves for warmth. But these bright cozy fires often have a dark side, hurting both the environment and our health. The Burn Right campaign exposes this harmful impact […]

Washington, DC joins BreatheLife Network

The District’s core strategy for cleaner air is outlined in the Clean Energy DC plan, an ambitious vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2032 and 80 percent by 2080. The bold plan positions the District as a global leader in fighting climate change; it also offers a roadmap to cleaner air and healthier citizens.

04

Solutions for Energy supply

04 - Solutions for Energy supply Oil and gas produce 25% of the world’s methane emissions. Flaring, the burning of uncaptured gas during production, emits harmful black carbon. Better control of fugitive emissions and capturing flared gas as fuel helps limit emissions from current oil and gas production in the short-term, while the shift to renewable energy sources can ensure a cleaner, healthier future in the long-term.
  • Renewable power supply

    Renewables directly improve air quality while slowing climate change. For example, rooftop PV solar systems in off-grid rural areas or fast-growing cities with unreliable energy supply is a clean, and cost-effective alternative to heavily polluting portable diesel generators.

  • Diesel replacement

    The fine particles and black carbon emitted by diesel vehicles and engines can be virtually eliminated through technologies that are already present on half of new heavy-duty vehicles sold today.

SEE FURTHER RESOURCES
Healthy homes, healthy cities

When the Chilean government discovered that as much as 94 per cent of the fine particulate matter that contributed to smog was coming from firewood burning in buildings, it launched a programme to replace 200,000 firewood heaters with more energy-efficient ones. It also started to subsidize insulation in low- and middle-income households to improve the […]

New BreatheLife country Colombia brings new and enhanced action on air quality

Colombia, one of the latest countries to join BreatheLife efforts to cut global deaths from air pollution by half by 2030, is no stranger to action curbing air pollution. Since the 1970s, the country has put in place and built on air quality and pollution monitoring and regulations to mitigate the threat hovering over its growing […]

BreatheLife welcomes the Canton of Sarajevo

New BreatheLife member Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is familiar with air quality challenges. The canton of 420,000 residents is nestled in a valley in the Dinaric Alps, whose many mountain ranges pose a challenge to atmospheric pollution dispersion, at times trapping pollutants such as particulate matter from wood smoke and vehicles. Heavy traffic, […]

BreatheLife welcomes Baguio City, the Philippines

Baguio, a highly urbanized mountain resort city in the northern Luzon island of the Philippines, has joined the BreatheLife campaign. The city of over 345,000 citizens, dubbed the Summer Capital of the Philippines, has set itself the goal of maintaining air quality levels within the “good” to “fair” range of the national air quality index. […]

New report outlines air pollution measures that can save millions of lives and slow climate change

This article first appeared on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.  Millions of lives could be saved and one billion people living in Asia could be breathing clean air by 2030 if 25 simple and cost-effective measures are implemented, according to a new UN report. Currently, about 4 billion people – 92 per cent […]

Seoul becomes first East Asian BreatheLife city

When the Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon was interviewed at the World Cities Summit in July after the city scooped up the 2018 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, he spoke as the city’s longest-serving mayor in his third term. “A pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly city is the most important part of our direction,” said the […]

BreatheLife campaign welcomes Santo Domingo

A city of “firsts”, Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, literally laid the ground rules for urban planning. Its UNESCO Heritage protected colonial town, founded in 1498, was built in a grid pattern that became the model for almost all town planners in the New World. Santo Domingo also gave the New World its […]

First comprehensive air quality management plan for the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area announced

An estimated 440 lives could be saved per year from the clutches of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and five thousand asthma-related medical visits could be avoided in the Greater Accra Region in 2030 and beyond, if a new Air Quality Management Plan is adopted for the region, according to Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (Ghana EPA). The […]

Mayor of London launches taskforce to boost electric vehicles on London’s roads

This month, as part of widespread World Environment Day action, the Mayor of London announced the forming of a new taskforce dedicated to expanding the infrastructure needed to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in the city. The taskforce comprises 16 organization, including UK Power Networks, the British Rail Consortium and the RAC Foundation, a […]

UK Government releases draft Clean Air Strategy for consultation

The Government of the United Kingdom is calling for consultation on a new draft Clean Air Strategy, whose proposed actions could cut the costs of air pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030. It outlines actions to improve air quality by reducing […]

05

Solutions for Industry

05 - Solutions for Industry With more people living in cities, brick production and other heavy industry continue to contribute to air pollution. New technologies and practices are increasingly being introduced so that even as our cities grow, air pollution doesn’t grow with it.
  • Improved brick kilns

    Kilns used for firing bricks are heavy polluters of black carbon and put workers at increased risk for respiratory illness, but new kilns are being used that can cut emissions by up to half.

  • Improved coke ovens

    Coke ovens used to produce some metals emit toxins that can increase cancer risk. However, emissions can be captured for power generation and help minimize what is entered into the atmosphere

  • Fugitive emission control

    Fugitive emissions occur from leaks or the burning off of excess gas through flaring. Ongoing maintenance and new monitoring and detection technology can limit unnecessary emission from industry.

SEE FURTHER RESOURCES
New report outlines air pollution measures that can save millions of lives and slow climate change

This article first appeared on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.  Millions of lives could be saved and one billion people living in Asia could be breathing clean air by 2030 if 25 simple and cost-effective measures are implemented, according to a new UN report. Currently, about 4 billion people – 92 per cent […]

Tiny house wows delegates at UN High-Level Panel for Global Sustainability

A 22-square-metre “Tiny House” erected last week on the grounds of the United Nations in New York starting a conversation among delegates about how modular, sustainable housing designs can be accomplished in cities with a minimal environmental footprint. The house, featured during a meeting of the United Nations High-Level Panel for Global Sustainability, was designed […]

BreatheLife campaign welcomes Santo Domingo

A city of “firsts”, Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, literally laid the ground rules for urban planning. Its UNESCO Heritage protected colonial town, founded in 1498, was built in a grid pattern that became the model for almost all town planners in the New World. Santo Domingo also gave the New World its […]

UK Government releases draft Clean Air Strategy for consultation

The Government of the United Kingdom is calling for consultation on a new draft Clean Air Strategy, whose proposed actions could cut the costs of air pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030. It outlines actions to improve air quality by reducing […]

San Antonio largest city to ban coal tar-based sealants

In June of 2016, the San Antonio City Council made history by banning the use of coal tar-based sealcoat products, making it the largest city in the nation to prohibit this compound which contains chemicals known to to cause cancer. City staff analyzed more than 80 white papers and research studies demonstrating that coal tar sealants […]

Building back with cleaner kilns (Nepal)

After the destruction of nearly 300,000 homes and significant damage to brick production facilities from the April 2015 earthquake…

New kiln technology (Bangladesh)

A brick kiln technology developed in Germany uses half the amount of coal during brick production, trapping particles inside the bricks…

06

Solutions for Food & Agriculture

06 - Solutions for Agriculture The agricultural revolution of the past 50 years has dramatically increased food supplies. At the same time, livestock production has become a major driver of climate change due to its heavy water, feed and energy requirements, and a major source of methane emissions from ruminant animals like cattle. Rice production in continuously flooded fields is also a major source of methane, which is has immediate climate warming impacts far more powerful than longer-lived CO2.
  • Alternate "wet-dry" irrigation

    Intermittently drying out rice paddies, which traditionally were flooded year-round, can significantly cut methane emissions, while also reducing breeding grounds for disease-bearing mosquitoes and other vectors.

  • Improved manure management

    Waste “digestors” extract methane from livestock waste and sewage converting emissions into a clean energy source. Manure can also be used as fertilizer to improve crop production, moderate methane release and prevent the spread of disease.

  • Reduced open burning

    Waste management programmes to prevent open burning from crop waste and domestic and municipal waste such as paper and plastics, avoids dangerous pollutants from being released into the air, including black carbon.

  • Healthier food production

    Policies that promote diets rich in plant-based foods, particularly among middle- and high-income populations with plentiful food choices, can lower healthcare costs while reducing methane emissions from livestock production.

  • Reduced food waste

    Separating and composting biodegradable food waste reduces methane emissions from landfills, and can also be used as a source of fertilizer for local agriculture.

SEE FURTHER RESOURCES
BreatheLife welcomes IloIlo City, Philippines

Iloilo City is a highly urbanized coastal city of 500,000 residents, halfway between Manila and Davao, on the southern edge of the Philippine island of Panay. The City was lauded in 2017 by the Clean Air Philippines Movement for its air quality, declared a Clean Air City alongside the City of Davao and given the […]

New report outlines air pollution measures that can save millions of lives and slow climate change

This article first appeared on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.  Millions of lives could be saved and one billion people living in Asia could be breathing clean air by 2030 if 25 simple and cost-effective measures are implemented, according to a new UN report. Currently, about 4 billion people – 92 per cent […]

UK Government releases draft Clean Air Strategy for consultation

The Government of the United Kingdom is calling for consultation on a new draft Clean Air Strategy, whose proposed actions could cut the costs of air pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030. It outlines actions to improve air quality by reducing […]

India announces plan to bring down air pollution from crop burning

India’s government has announced new measures to help cut air pollution from the burning of agricultural waste, a major contributor to regular air quality crises in the north of the country. The new measures, announced this month, offers subsidies for a range of machines that should remove the need for a farmer to set fire […]

Incentive programs for composting (Penang)

Penang’s composting project creates incentives for households to separate their organic waste.